Lin­coln falls short against Wheeler

Woonsocket Call - - SPORTS - By BRANDEN MELLO bmello@woonsock­et­call.com

CUM­BER­LAND — It all went ac­cord­ing to plan for the No. 6 Lin­coln boys soc­cer team for the first 48 min­utes of its Di­vi­sion II semi­fi­nal against fa­vored Wheeler Thurs­day night at Tucker Field.

The un­der­manned Lions soaked up plenty of pres­sure in the open­ing 25 min­utes, and when they had an op­por­tu­nity to use their size and ath­leti­cism on a set piece, they pounced when Chris Ac­cardi headed a cor­ner

“UN­FOR­TU­NATELY, THEY SAY THE EAS­I­EST TIME TO SCORE A GOAL IS RIGHT AF­TER THE OTHER TEAM SCORES A GOAL. THEY CAP­I­TAL­IZED ON IT.”

kick back across the goal for Matt Car­valho to head into the net from six yards out.

Lin­coln had its pre­cious goal – but the lead was short lived. No. 2 Wheeler an­swered less than a minute later on a Brae­den Can­non strike and then the se­nior lead­ing scorer struck

— Lin­coln coach John D’Aloisio

again in the 61st minute to fin­ish off a move started by fresh­man mid­fielder Ai­den Pas­tora.

Can­non’s goals were enough to lift the War­riors to a 2-1 vic­tory and their first ap­pear­ance in the fi­nals.

“If we could’ve car­ried that lead for five min­utes I think we would’ve picked up more mo­men­tum,” Lin­coln coach John D’Aloisio said. “Un­for­tu­nately, they say the eas­i­est time to score a goal is right af­ter the other team scores a goal. They cap­i­tal­ized on it. We just didn’t get back on de­fense on the play and they took ad­van­tage.

“We spent some ex­tra time on cor­ner kicks in prac­tice the last few days. We didn’t get a lot of them, but that’s how we scored. We just wanted a dead-ball play, but I thought we put pres­sure on them for a while.”

Lin­coln’s best chance to tie the game came in the 68th minute when the War­riors com­mit­ted a foul 25 yards from their own goal. Ju­nior mid­fielder David Idar­raga opted to try to bend the ball past ju­nior goalie Ben Thorn­ton at his near post, but Thorn­ton dove to his left and palmed the ball away for a Lin­coln cor­ner. Thorn­ton made six saves.

Wheeler will now spend the next two days de­vel­op­ing a game plan to de­feat No. 1 North Smith­field, which used a Justin De­celles goal to elim­i­nate No. 4 Char­iho, 1-0, Thurs­day in John­ston. While the War­riors have yet to play in a fi­nal, coach Eric Ko­ry­tkowski’s North­men are play­ing for their first D-II ti­tle. The North­men won the 2005 D-IV and 2006 D-III ti­tles.

“The kids need to be ready to go and we’re go­ing to have a tough two days to get ready for that game,” Wheeler coach Os­car Zor­rilla said. “It will def­i­nitely be an en­ter­tain­ing game and also very phys­i­cal. Ev­ery­one is go­ing to leave ev­ery­thing on the field.”

The Lions, who have been with­out the ser­vices of tal­ented play­ers like Alex Lopez and Jaden Smith be­cause of in­juries, spent the first 20 min­utes Thurs­day soak­ing up tremen­dous amounts of pres­sure from a Wheeler side loaded with tal­ented un­der­class­men. Se­nior goalie Tim Cullen, the hero of the penalty shootout win over Burrillville in the last round, was forced to make a point-blank save on a header in the eighth minute. Cullen made five saves be­fore se­nior David Leonardi en­tered at half­time.

Af­ter fail­ing to pro­duce a cor­ner kick in the first half, the Lions cre­ated three early in the sec­ond half. They scored the game’s open­ing goal in the 48th minute when Ac­cardi blooped a header into the goal mouth where Car­valho was on hand to score his sec­ond goal in as many matches.

Wheeler an­swered less than a minute later. Af­ter giv­ing away an in­nocu­ous free kick in the mid­field, the Lions failed to get back on de­fense. Wheeler fresh­man winger Travis Cobain beat his de­fender and crossed the ball into the box where Can­non was on hand to slot a shot past Leonardi.

“Brae­den is a spe­cial player and has a knack for the goal,” Zor­rilla said. “He has 22 goals al­ready this year and he just wants to keep on scor­ing.”

The War­riors grabbed the game-win­ning goal 12 min­utes later when Pas­tora bi­sected Lin­coln’s cen­tral de­fend­ers with a per­fect ball that Jamey Mayer con­trolled and laid off to Can­non for a goal.

D’Aloisio re­moved a de­fender in fa­vor of an at­tack­ing player in the fi­nal 15 min­utes, but the Lions sim­ply couldn’t find a way through Ivan Ruiz and the Wheeler de­fense.

“I’m very proud of these kids. We had one game late in the sea­son where we had seven guys out, five starters” D’Aloisio said. “The kids turned it around. Frankly, this is a game we could’ve won if we caught a break. We just needed some­one or some­thing to spark us and get mo­men­tum. It’s great that we made it to the semi­fi­nals, but this still stings.”

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